Do People With Private Jets Get Jet Lag?
This week, as other people were placing last-minute bets and looking up guacamole recipes in preparation for the Super Bowl, I was brushing up on my knowledge of the international date line — along with every other Swiftie and the Embassy of Japan.
Everyone wanted to know if Taylor Swift could make it from her Eras Tour performance in Tokyo on Feb. 10 to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Feb. 11. But as the time zone math was mathing all over the internet, I became curious about something else. Although Tay should arrive stateside to see her boy Travis Kelce play in plenty of time (thanks to said date line, and despite a 12-ish-hour flight and a 17-hour time difference), I wondered if she'd also be feeling some intense jet lag.
I, for one, am usually wrecked by international travel . . . but I am also a lowly, Dickensian Economy betch. I do own a travel pillow but haven't remembered to bring it on a flight since the day I bought it at the airport.
I needed to seriously investigate: does traveling on a private plane improve jet lag? Will Tay be feeling a bit drowsy while she's supporting Trav and dining on chicken and seemingly ranch in her box? To find out, I asked some sleep experts (and someone who has access to private jets!) what we should know.
Is Jet Lag Less Terrible When You Fly Private?
Obviously, flying private has perks and downfalls (such as contributing to the slow demise of our hallowed planet, one carbon emission at a time — perhaps the most cryptic and Machiavellian thing one can do).
But those perks, man.
Sleep experts and private flyers alike have confirmed to POPSUGAR that, yes, private travel can help a lot with jet lag. There are a few reasons for this.
The first thing to think about when it comes to jet lag is your circadian rhythm, or your body clock that repeats every 24 hours. Another word for jet lag is "circadian dysrhythmia," and it basically just means your internal clock isn't in sync with the time where you are, says Mike Gradisar, PhD, head of sleep science at Sleep Cycle (who told me before our interview that he's "more of a Tool fan" but was looking forward to talking about Taylor).
Light can help shift your circadian rhythms and sync your body clock to a different time. Exposing yourself to light or darkness can essentially trick your body into going to sleep or waking up at a time it's not used to, Dr. Gradisar says. That could enable you to "make that change to the new location a lot quicker and reduce jet lag," he says.
And when you have a private jet, you have more control over the cabin light you're exposed to. If you need to sleep during the flight (or trick your body into thinking it's already nighttime), you can turn off the lights and shut all the window blinds on a private plane and feel reasonably confident that the pilot won't randomly turn them back on when he makes an announcement.
The lie-flat seats (and lack of flight attendants accidentally crushing your foot with their trolley) also help if your goal is to catch up on sleep while in the air.
But Swift may take the opposite tack. Assuming she leaves Tokyo on Saturday, Feb. 10, around midnight local time after her show, she'll likely arrive in Las Vegas around 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time the same night. (Yes, because of the time zones, she's essentially going back in time — although thankfully not to December.) Rather than sleeping on her flight and touching down well-rested (and therefore unable to doze off during the US nighttime, sending her into a jet-lag spiral), she might decide to try to stay awake on the plane so she'll be nice and tired by the time she makes it back to a bedroom stateside.
Again, flying private can help her with this goal. Sure, the discomfort of commercial flights can keep you awake — but so can the extended entertainment options associated with private planes.
Private jets are a lot less boring than commercial flights, according to *Peter, someone I met on Hinge who graciously agreed to be interviewed for this story about his time traveling internationally on his family's private jet (I feel Taylor would approve of this Swiftian sourcing method).
He recalls one flight on international waters with his parents: "You felt like it was a plane that was designed for the people who were going to fly that day," Peter says. "We had a TV. If we wanted to play video games, we could." If Swift does fly private, her plane could be stocked with plenty of stimulating activities to keep her up for the whole flight.
One more benefit to flying private (other than the fact it's not Alaska Airlines) is it's a lot less stressful, reducing "cognitive load," says Seema Khosla, MD, FCCP, FAASM, medical director at the North Dakota Center for Sleep.
When you go commercial, "you have to get through security, and then you think: 'I can't forget that I put my bag in the overhead bin,'" Dr. Khosla says. "You have to worry about making your connection. By flying private, you're eliminating that mental load." That can translate into sleeping better when you need to drift off — whether it's on the plane or once you're at your destination — because you don't have as many "cognitive arousals," she says, so you won't find yourself feeling tired yet somehow also wired from the stress.
Case in point: while Peter says he tends to feel a little bedraggled post-commercial air travel, even when he flies Business, he's always felt "pretty refreshed" after private travel.
All that withstanding, there are at least two factors that private air travel may not be able to totally solve for regarding jet lag. One is turbulence. "Smaller planes tend to be more susceptible to turbulence compared to a commercial jet, and if she's sleeping on the plane, that's gonna wake her up," Dr. Gradisar notes. With that said, Peter adds that private jets can actually fly higher than commercial aircrafts, and this helps them avoid most of that dreaded turbulence. And, as we noted, TS may not even want to sleep on the plane — so this point may be a wash.
The second thing private-jet-level-wealth can't change is our sleep tendencies, which can make jet lag more or less manageable, according to Dr. Gradisar — and the fact that Swift is a known night owl may be an issue.
"If she's going Eastward to Las Vegas, that's actually going in the opposite direction that her body wants to move if she's a night owl," Dr. Gradisar says. "But, the fact that she's got the jet, and she's only just arrived in Japan from the Grammys — she should be fine."
Can I Bring the Private Lifestyle Into Economy?
We can't (and we shouldn't) all fly private. But there are a few ways to bring the ethos of private travel to the back of the plane with you, the sleep experts tell me. Dr. Khosla recommends, for one, staying hydrated, which will help you sleep better both on and after the flight. She adds having a good neck pillow helps too (a nudge I sorely need).
Dr. Gradisar says that if one big benefit of flying private is fewer disturbances, noise-canceling headphones and a sleep mask can mimic that magic.
You can also help yourself by carving out some time a few weeks before your trip to figure out what the time changes will look like and to see if you can prepare your body so it's less shocked by them, Dr. Khosla says.
She says that a good mini analogue for time change during travel is Daylight Savings Time. When you lose or gain an hour, you (and your pets or kids) might still be hungry at around 6 p.m. if that's when you usually have dinner — even if it's technically 5 p.m. post-clocks-change. But moving mealtime back or forward by about 10 minutes a day in the week leading up to the change can make things easier. "I did this with my fish and I did it when my kids were little," she says. And this strategy can be applied to time zone changes.
Like Taylor, a clear mastermind, "you have to have a plan," Dr. Khosla says.
So, Will Taylor Be Jet-Lagged at the Super Bowl?
This entire story is one of a hypothetical nature, and we know what happens when you assume where Taylor Alison Swift is concerned (as we most recently learned at the Grammys). We don't know for sure when or how or even if Taylor will travel to the Super Bowl. We also can't say if she has someone who helps her craft a sleep-and-wake schedule to best support her circadian rhythm, like many athletes do. Or if she's just forgoing sleep altogether as she prepares to juggle the launch of "The Tortured Poets Department," the sending of cease-and-desist letters to college students, and a relationship. In fact, we're not 100 percent sure she's not superhuman, as I've always suspected. She might not even need sleep.
So . . . will she be jet-lagged?
But being rich and having access to private jets will probably help.